Government Member of Parliament, Seepaul Narine, on Monday, waded into the previous APNU/AFC administration over its management of the country during the last five years, particularly in relation to its handling of the sugar sector.
Narine, in his maiden presentation during the Budget 2020 debates, said that this year’s budget is like “a breath of fresh air” for many Guyanese since it seeks to reverse the backward, anti-development policies that the previous administration had implemented.
“Budget 2020 marks the first step in the journey to reverse the vampire-like policies that plagued our nation over the last five years when the Coalition spared no one, except themselves,” he posited.
He reminded that during the APNU/AFC’s tenure in office, “many poor Guyanese faced troubled times to put meals on the table and could not get jobs…and many of their gains were sucked away by the Coalition Government”.
Narine, a Trade Unionist by profession, reminded that it was under the APNU/AFC Government that over 30,000 people lost their jobs.
Turning his attention to the sugar sector, he said there is no reason whatsoever for the manner in which the Coalition Government treated sugar workers, which he said resulted in untold sufferings across the country.
He contended that much was lost over the last five years due to an uncaring administration “who didn’t understand and certainly did not care about the sufferings of sugar workers”.
“The Coalition purposefully sought to demolish and destroy the sugar industry for their own nefarious ends.”
“What kind of leaders put thousands of people out of work without any plan to deal with the fallout?” he asked.
The MP, who is also the General Secretary of the Guyana Agriculture and General Workers Union (GAWU), reasoned that the Coalition Government claimed it had all the answers to solving the issues plaguing the sugar sector, but “certainly they had the wrong answers.”
Narine explained that when the PPP/C took office in August this year, it found that billions of dollars in equipment was left to rot due to neglect and an uncaring attitude by the APNU/AFC.
In terms of sugar production, he explained that during the life of the Coalition Government, production fell by a record 60%.
He said that President Irfaan Ali has pledged his commitment to reopen the estates so that life could be breathed into those communities once again which the Coalition turned into “ghost-towns”.
The MP boasted that Budget 2020 demonstrates that commitment with the allocation of $5B for the sugar industry.
Narine disclosed that a team of exports have already begun to explore various options for the Skeldon, Rosehall and Enmore estates.
He added that the new PPP Government will ensure that a capable Board of Directors and an effective Management are put in place to turn around the sector and to make it viable once again.
Meanwhile, the MP noted that the reestablishment of the Ministry of Labour is a testimony to the commitment of the present Government towards ensuring that workers’ rights are protected.
According to Narine, Budget 2020 is a welcomed departure from a time “when Guyanese feared what next will be increased and what else would be taken away from them”.
He concluded that “Budget 2020 is a poor people progressive budget with significant attention to lifting our working people, putting them to work, and making them and their families comfortable.”